Monster Hunter World (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £24.99 base game, lots of gubbins including Iceborne, which is the big DLC wot costs £35+ quid)
Where To Get It: Steam

Oh, how I’d wanted to do this one when it first came out. And Iceborne. Oh, and Rise when it comes out on PC next year. But, alas, a small thing called “My Computer Was Dying Just A Little Bit” stopped me, and the pricepoint for a while thereafter.

This is pretty much mandatory in any coverage of the game.

But now, I’m here. Now, I’m rekindling my love fo- Haha, just kidding, I don’t have to rekindle my love of MonHun. After all, a game in which you live in a monster filled world, hunting them for resources and safety, and going on to bigger and bigger monsters? I like it. I’ve loved its take on progression, where yes, monster get beeg, but you don’t get big. Your equipment does, in a sense, but that’s the arms race between you and monsters, one you have to keep up with. But picking good equipment, learning about the monster from the mistakes you can make and come back from, taking educated guesses based on what it is, and then using these tools to take down a monster, alone or with friends? Heck yeah.

Let’s get a thing out of the way though. Monster Hunter World is doing a colonialism under thin pretenses of study. It’s an improved, quality of life added, and bigger MonHun than I’ve seen (although next to none of us here in the West ever really saw the actual MMO), it’s gorgeous, and it plays well according to the rules of MonHun. Learn thy weapons with the cat in the house, traveller, or just test them out where you aren’t going to get flattened. Each is unique. Each is pretty damn cool. Dual blades are the best and I will fight you on this.

I remain Easy To Create In Videogames.

But yes, its story can’t help but be framed as colonialist af, considering yes, the Fifth Fleet are trying to force their methods to work here as they do elsewhere, and… Well, I think this is the first title where we actively screwed up with the Big Elder Dragon, rather than “Ohshit, it woke up for some unknown reason, is causing disasters and/or heading directly to our village/town, it’s them or us!” (Well, except the first bit. That first bit was classic MonHun “Ohshit it just turned up”)

So, aesthetically, it’s good, it’s got some wonderful tunes, including a new rendition of that iconic theme, “Proof of a Hero”, the monsters are animated wonderfully. I mean, they’ve had a lot of experience here, but the monsters fighting each other… Sometimes, I just get out the popcorn and yell “HIT HIM WITH THE CHAIR!” from a safe distance, and the UX is… Somewhat changed. I won’t say it’s all for the better, it’s still a bit of an issue finding things, and the scoutflies feel like a necesssary addition, considering how certain plants and items blend into the landscape as well as, well, a native plant should!

And mechanically… Well, the formula got refined. There’s an always available weapon called the Slinger (y’know, that thing you use to look cool as you ride pterodactyls), but the weapon types, from my personal fave, the lightning fast dual blades, to the lumbering Greatsword, or the swag pseudo-hammer that buffs everyone, the Hunting Horn, have added little mechanics from previous games…

THE TOP ROPE’S RIGHT THERE, HE’S DOWN, PEOPLE’S ELBOW THEM IN THE FORK!

It’s somewhat hard to talk about Monster Hunter games precisely because they are, despite their simple formula, A Lot, but yes, overall, I would in fact recommend MHW. From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty likely I’d recommend Rise a bit more, although part of that is on the grounds that we haven’t seen this flavour of village in MonHun since Portable 3rd (Technically Generations, but Generations is a mashup.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take down The Dread Pickle.

Or, as is just as likely for the overconfident like me, to be leapt on from a mile away, and gored.

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Nioh 2 Complete (Review)

Source: Review Copy (Which meant I had the DLC of ye original Nioh 2, and still died a whole bunch)
Price: £49.99
Where To Get It: Steam

Play with a controller. Make sure you get a comfortable right stick setting. Prepare to die a whole bunch learning this. This is your primary warning for Nioh 2, as it is unforgiving of mistakes.

I learned this… A lot. A lot a lot.

Meet your first exam. It’s a real killer.

So yes, Nioh 2 is an action RPG with slowish levelling, more requiring skill with equipment and your abilities than anything else (although what you can equip is limited by your stats, and you should definitely keep this considered), fixed attack animations (don’t be hammering on the attack keys), combat with a fair amount of depth, such as which stances to use, tactics, using your demon abilities well… You’ll get an exam on these real early on, along with the exam on “There are enemies you definitely shouldn’t fight unless you’re super skilled”, and the lessons will be painful.

Getting to your stuff you dropped when you died is not going to be easy if you died in a particularly nasty spot, and… Look, it’s a tough game with a steep early learning curve. Play the tutorials. Experiment. Be prepared to die a lot, or less if you’re already experienced in this. There’s a fair amount of timing to it, such as recovering your ki (stamina) by pulsing it at the right moment after a combo, which also serves the purpose of purifying an area, an important facet of fights with demons, because they can power up or use them.

I think I see why I’m being dunked on so mercilessly… I chose to play a nerd.

Aesthetically, it’s gorgeous. Lovely music, characters and monsters that really pop, taken from Japanese mythology and history alike, great sounds, and a clear UX. It’s good here. Writing wise, it’s stylish, and an early touch of the ghosts of your parents commenting on your character creation is… Okay, I teared up a little at hearing the character’s mother, who’d died messily not even thirty seconds earlier, say how we’ve grown so fondly.

But yes, it is tough as heck, and if that’s a turnoff, don’t bother, even with toning the difficulty down, mastering the systems I pretty much a must.

Beyond this, though, there’s… Not a lot for me to say. It’s good, and it has a lot of the stuff you’d expect from an RPG, with several different weapon types (I went edge, with a kusarigama and a switchblade, aka “It’s a scythe that turns into a bat’leth, deal with it, yokai.”), and… I enjoy it. Even if I die, and am going to die, time and time and time again.

This intro story shares a little with the story of the Red Oni and Blue Oni, but… I honestly just wanted an excuse to post a screenshot of a buff horny man with a big stick.

So, yes, if you’re either good at this sort of thing, want to struggle to play a cool game using Japanese mythology and history to tell a dramatic tale in a world of demons… This one’s good for you.

The Mad Welshman defends quick weapons to the death. Multiple deaths. Many, many deaths.

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Hades (Going Back)

Source: Supporter Gift
Price: £19.49 (£7.19 soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

Supergiant do it again. They keep doing it. I’m enjoying a game about a rebellious young adult, Zagreus, son of Hades, snarking and battling his way from his home at the lowest depths of Hades, trying to escape, in essence, a shitty family situation.

He’s right. I have no urge to consensually bully Dusa, who is cute.

Its aesthetics are gorgeous (God, so many fucking hunks!) Its progression feels natural, to the point where I knew where I was going, knew what I was doing, and was fine with dying over and over again, because I knew my grind would be rewarded. Its characters, even the grumpy and overbearing dad Hades, charmed me.

And thus, one of those times I hate is upon me, because I can’t say anything bad, so I’m struggling with what the hell else to say.

Okay, so, Hades is an action roguelike, in which, as noted, Zagreus, son of Hades, is attempting to escape, with the aid of his step-mother Nyx, the Olympian Gods, and a few other notable figures, including the most relaxed and friendly incarnation of Sisyphus I’ve ever seen. You start with one weapon, a sword, make your way as far as you can, get your ass beaten down, and come back for more, wading out of the pool of blood that forms the entryway to Zagreus’ home as he bitterly snarks or swears payback.

For the reason that it’s ever so cheesable, I love the spear. But every weapon is, honestly, appealing in this game.

He will escape. Because he cannot die, so he keeps trying, because he knows he can do it. And, as he does, he gets more powerful. He befriends various people, like Dusa, the disembodied medusa head maid of Hades’ abode (She’s so cute!), or Dionysus, who reminds me so damn much of Zaphod Beeblebrox that I find myself smiling. A chill dude, I like him.

Anyway, yes, the progression is natural, the sound design great, the VA good…

Look, I can’t keep saying nice things, so I will end with this: If you like action roguelikes, then yes, this is a good one to pick. It’s easy on beginners, it’s accessible (alas, never perfectly, for it is twitchy, but still), and, as mentioned, the grind feels less like a grind, and more like a natural state of affairs.

It’s criminal how hunky, laid back, and smooth talking he is. CRIMINAL, I TELL YOU!

It’s good stuff.

Call me, Dionysus, we had a fun time! xoxo

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Noita (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £15.49 (£7.99 soundtrack, £21.13 game and soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

Ahhh, Noita… Pixel by pixel simulation of object interaction. Want ice vapour to kill you? Don’t worry, particle by particle, you can do that! Want to put out that particle fire? Just hop in some particle liquid that isn’t particle oil, or sprinkle it on yourself! Want to shoot several particle streams of death, which then become more particle streams of death, and so on until your computer is screaming at you to stop? Yes, you can do these things, all of these things, so long as it’s through shooting things, bombing things, kicking things, throwing things, or spraying things!

Pixels! And many of them are currently very deadly!

You can also die in some extremely messy ways. And you will. Often. So yes, welcome to Noita, a procedurally generated roguelike in which you are descending into the depths of a mountain’s cavern/dungeon network, for… Reasons. I’m sure they made sense at the time, whatever those reasons were. It’s got some lovely pixel art, which, y’know, fits because of all those pixels that can be set on fire, slosh around, obstruct you and so on… And the music and sounds are good too.

It’s difficult, and at times twitchy, so if those are turnoffs, turn ye back now, and, as mentioned, it can get resource hoggy, so make sure your computer can handle it before trying it out!

Otherwise… Hot damn, the feeling of doing incredibly silly shit with your wands and potions, whether it works or not… No, really, it’s amusing to have thirty five arrows from a single cast, only for said arrows to bounce back at you because what did you expect when you fired 35 arrows in so many directions?

For this to be my situation on entering the level is a sign that maybe I should have run away. I did not. I died. I had a blast (and I got blasted.)

Well, you expected something amusing to happen. And you got it, even if you have to restart the game. But that’s okay, there’s probably even sillier things you can get up to! (There most definitely are.)

Any criticisms? Well… Apart from the game turning very resource hoggy when there’s a lot of stuff going on (and believe me, you can easily ensure a lot of stuff is going on, and so can some of the enemies), it’s in this weird space where the basic learning curve is actually quite easy… But the mastery curve is several sharp inclines, which, even with the potential for very amusing deaths, also creates some frustrating ones. Argh, why did I have to die just by getting shot? Boring! Also, some enemies, like the snipers, are… Oh god, they’re utter bastards.

Helpfully, the game now lists things you’ve found, and counts the secrets the game has. Yes, I mentioned secrets, and have found none personally. I know how to get them, I just haven’t tried.

But, overall, I love Noita. I love the destructive creativity. I love the war stories it can create. And, if you don’t mind a tough action roguelike, where you’re going to die in the first few areas a lot before you get further, you’ll like this one.

The Mad Welshman appreciates that wizards have no sense of responsibility. So consider sending wizards into this hellhole a chance for one of them to learn. Maybe.

Look, it’s enjoyable to send the bastards to their doom, alright?

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Undermine (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £15.49 (Soundtrack £3.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

Other Reviews: Early Access

In a land with a great wizard, and quite a few warriors, clerics, etcetera, who’s going to save the day? Who’s going to stop the evil sorceress or what have you from bringing back an ancient evil? Who’s going to clean up the dungeons and stop the earthquakes?

One of a cavalcade of largely identical and disposable peasants. That’s who. And they pay the company store for their equipment. Yay capitalism! (Not yay at all.)

They will not be getting their pension, due to “Cost saving measures.” IE – Letting them die. They never got hazard pay.

And yes, that is basically the setup for Undermine: You are a peasant, who is very handy with a pick and has a gold hauling canary, and if you die, well, another, sometimes eerily similar peasant drops into the dungeon to have a go, trampling figuratively on the backs of those who died before them.

Which, for a shooty slashy roguelike sort of game with rooms filled with traps, enemies, gold, and the cute slimes that try to steal that gold when you mine it (oh, and bosses and shops, obviously), is actually a blackly hilarious setup. Instead of a dodge roll, you have a special power. An amazing power.

Yeaaaaahhh, this isn’t in my comp package. Because that doesn’t exist.

Peasants are the only buggers in this world who can jump. Take that how you will. In any case, swinging your pick, throwing your pick, dropping bombs, and occasionally chugging potions are your absolute basics here, along with “If you die, you lose some of your gold, and can either spend what’s left on improving yourself, or going right back in in the hopes that you make enough gold to get bigger improvements.”

It’s a tried and true method, and, honestly, it works really well here. The visuals are good spritework, the menus are clear, the enemies are interesting… And the bosses… Ahhh, these are some good quality bosses. Just qualifying enough in the category of “A Shower of Bastards” to make you hate them, but you get the idea of how to beat them pretty quickly. It’s just a matter of doing it. The difficulty curve is pretty fair… This is one of those games where it’s tightly designed, it’s fun, and I’d have to look really hard to find something I’m actually critical.

There, a screenshot where they didn’t die, from the training video! Except they died two or three minutes after.

And I have. And I’ve failed. So… Undermine: If you like procgen twin-sticky collected arenas-as-dungeons games, then yes, this is a good pick for you. I wouldn’t necessarily say it would be a good game for dipping your toes in the water to see if you like it, but I also wouldn’t say it’s a bad place to start.

And that’s Undermine. Eat the Wizards.

AWAB, is all The Mad Welshman has to say.

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